Reports suggest Declan Rice is ready to commit his international future to Ireland

Fri, Dec 21 2018

Rice in action for Ireland under-21s against Norway last year. Credit: Laszlo Geczo (ETPhotos)

West Ham United teenager Declan Rice is set to affirm his international allegiance to the Republic of Ireland, according to reports in Friday’s daily newspapers.

London-born Rice, who can play in midfield or defence, earned three caps in friendlies for the boys in green during 2018 before requesting time off to consider his options.

The youngster had been approached by England manager Gareth Southgate, who had watched Rice while under-21 boss, and invited to the FA’s campus at St George’s Park.

Southgate made his case to Rice – who is a mainstay in Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham side – but the player’s father Sean, whose parents were from Cork, is believed to have urged him to remain.

The 18-year-old stood down temporarily from the international team ahead of the UEFA Nations League opener with Wales in September, which would have tied him to Ireland.

He was given space to make his decision by then-manager Martin O’Neill, but he has since been replaced by Mick McCarthy, who made it a priority to get in touch with Rice.

Now it appears that several figures within the FAI believe he may commit himself to the land of his heritage before Christmas, according to reports in the Irish Times and Irish Independent.